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US supports Saudi war in Yemen, says John Kerry
US Secretary of State John Kerry has reiterated Washington's support for Saudi Arabia's ongoing war on Yemen, which has so far claimed the lives of at least 8,000 people.
Kerry, who spoke in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, after attending a meeting with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir on Saturday, said the Saudi decision to launch airstrikes in Yemen was aimed at dealing with the Ansarullah movement and al-Qaeda operatives in the Arab country. Saudi Arabia's military attacks against Yemen, which started in late March, have so far claimed the lives of more than 8,270 people and injured over 16,000 others.
Earlier this month, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" about Saudi Arabia's intensification of airstrikes in residential areas and on civilian buildings in the Yemeni capital and warned that Riyadh's use of cluster bombs in Sana'a, may amount to a "war crime."
The Saudi strikes are supposedly meant to undermine the Ansarullah movement and restore power to fugitive former Yemeni president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi.
Ansarullah fighters took control of the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, in September 2014 and are currently in control of large parts of the country. They said the government of the fugitive former president was incapable of properly running the affairs of the country and containing the growing wave of corruption and terror.
Kerry further expressed concern about what he described as Iranian "interference" in other countries, including Yemen.
"The United States remains concerned about some of the activities that Iran is engaged in other countries," like Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, he said.
The top diplomat further reassured America's Persian Gulf Arab allies that Washington "will stand with them against any external threat."
"Let me assure everybody that the relationship between the United States and the GCC nations ([Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council) is one that is built on mutual interest, on mutual defense and I think there is no doubt whatsoever in the minds of the countries that make up the GCC that the United States will stand with them against any external threat," Kerry told reporters.
Kerry also talked of Syria, expressing confidence that Syria peace talks would precede, after he held talks with [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council states in Saudi Arabia. "We are confident that with good initiative in the next day or so those talks can get going and that the UN representative special envoy, Staffan De Mistura, will be convening people in an appropriate manner for the proximity talks that will be the first meeting in Geneva," he said.
Syria peace talks are scheduled to begin on January 25 in Geneva. However, there is uncertainty around the date, because of a dispute over who will be part of the 'opposition' delegation. "I won't announce a date, but we all agreed that immediately after completion of the first round of the Syria discussions, the International Syria Support Group will convene, and that will be very shortly, because we want to keep the process moving," Kerry said. This is while Saudi Arabia is deliberately undermining ongoing efforts for a political solution in Syria.
De Mistura earlier accused Riyadh of complicating his efforts on Syria by trying to tightly control which opposition groups are allowed to participate in the international negotiations to resolve the crisis in the country, according to a report published by Foreign Policy magazine on Thursday. Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The crisis has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people so far and displaced millions of others.
[Source: Daily Times, Agencies, Riyadh, 28Jan16]
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